Friday, October 21, 2016

Interview with Laurent Bopp, international expert on climate change

Laurent Bopp is a researcher at the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (LSCE), Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace (IPSL) in France. His main research interests concern the links between marine biogeochemical cycles, marine ecosystems and climate. He is an expert in marine biogeochemical and ecosystem models (such as the PISCES model), coupled to Earth System Models (such as the IPSL climate model). 

Laurent Bopp during a lecture in the IMBER summer school 2016.

Question: Some researchers say that climate change has a higher impact on women than men. Do you agree? Why? 
Laurent:  It is a good question. I guess it depends a lot on where in the world they are. I mean, society inequalities between men and women are stronger in some places, and surely climate change is believed to increase inequalities. So, that will be the case where such inequalities exist already. Where inequalities are not so pronounced, we hope not to see so many differences in the impacts. 

Question: Which challenge is the hardest to overcome: adapting to climate change or reaching zero emission?
Laurent: I guess we have to do both: go to zero emission and adapt to climate change. And again it will depend where on the planet we are talking about, countries that are very dependent on fossil fuel will have much more difficulties to reduce the emissions, whereas it is believed that countries that have a higher G.D.P will adapt more easily than others. My personal guess is that going to zero emission is difficult, because this is a global goal: if you do it, and your neighbor does not, you simply do not achieve it. Adaptation is much more likely, you can adapt just counting on yourself. So, in a very integrated world, where we share things, maybe we can do both at the same time. In a more fragmented world, adaptation is ok but going to zero emission is impossible. 

Question: What changes would you like to see in the scientific community in the future?

Laurent: I see some nice changes already. But I’d like to see more. So, if I take the examples of the system in France, and I know that in many other places it is the same, it is very hierarchical. We have the professors, then we have the post-docs and the PhD students, and we always see the same ones giving the big presentations, and we should include more flexibility into this. We should have a bit more talking at all levels, not just at the highest ones. But, I’ve seen some changes. So I think it is coming. 

by Natalia Roos

Thursday, October 6, 2016

How new tech is catching IUU fishing in small-boat fisheries

This week Melissa Garren, chief scientific officer of the Pelagic Data Systems and Anne Hawkins of the Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, talk about a new technology against illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing.

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and actor Leonardo Di Caprio unveiled Global Fishing Watch at the Our Ocean Conference in Washington, D.C. As its big-name spokesmen would suggest, Global Fishing Watch is a big deal. Created by Google, Oceana, and SkyTruth, it uses satellite data to track and make public the fishing activity of the world’s largest fishing vessels. This enables public oversight and pressures vessel operators to fish legally.

Global Fishing Watch is a huge step in the fight against illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing, and there also remains much work to be done. Right now, it’s still possible for vessel operators to turn off their satellite tracking devices, and there are many smaller vessels that have no tracking capability at all due to the expense and power requirements of most systems. This poses a significant challenge because ~95 percent of the world’s fishing fleet is comprised of these small vessels.

At Pelagic Data Systems, we developed an autonomous, tamper-proof Vessel Tracking System (VTS) with these small vessels in mind. Our VTS is a solar-powered device, roughly the size and shape of a smartphone, that collects, encrypts, and securely transmits data on a boat’s location, and it can monitor storage temperature and catch methods. By filling in the data gap for small-scale fisheries, this technology complements efforts already under way to rid the world of IUU fishing.


Pelagic Data Systems recently teamed up with Global Fishing Watch and industry partner PT Bali Seafood International (BSI) to begin putting that data on the public map of global fishing. The project is collecting data on small fishing vessels in Indonesia that feed into BSI’s international supply chain, and this data will be made public online through Global Fishing Watch. Projects like this one are wins for traceability, sustainability, and for the fishing industry’s bottom line. Consumers are increasingly demanding seafood caught transparently and through a sustainable supply chain, and companies like BSI are paving the way.

Our vessel tracking systems also provide valuable information for use in marine spatial planning. As Anne Hawkins and I presented at the ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) Annual Science Conference last week, this data collected by the fishing industry can help to preserve their access to valuable fishing grounds and inform decisions on how new projects in the marine environment are sited. By providing fishing communities with the data-oriented tools to get involved in this process, we empower them to help manage the resources that support their livelihoods.

Ultimately, the more ways we can monitor the world’s fishing fleet, the faster we can eradicate IUU fishing and guarantee that fishing resources relied on by billions of people around the globe are sustainably managed.

by Melissa Garren and Anne Hawkins 

Melissa is a marine biologist who specializes in the intersection of technology and marine conservation. At Pelagic Data Systems, she is responsible for providing scientific leadership and aligning the company's technology development programs with the needs of both the ecosystems and the communities dependent on them.  She holds a B.S. from Yale University, and M.S. and Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and completed postdoctoral work at MIT in the application of cutting-edge technologies to marine conservation solutions.